BRAZIL’S SHARP TURN

BRAZIL’S SHARP TURN

As expected, Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad have advanced to the second round of Brazil’s presidential election, which will be held on October 28. There were two surprises. First, with 46 percent of the vote, the surging Bolsonaro nearly won without the need for a runoff. Second, in the country’s congressional elections, a populist wave has lifted his once-obscure Social Liberal Party (PSL) to new heights.


Bolsonaro, a controversial law-and-order candidate, will probably win the head-to-head matchup with Haddad later this month, but his extreme unpopularity with voters on the left will help Haddad make it closer than the first-round margin might suggest.

The bottom line: Another set of voters has demanded dramatic change. Just as establishment figures in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, and Sweden have lost significant ground to fresh faces and new parties over the past two years, Brazilians have sent familiar presidential candidates, incumbent governors, and long-time lawmakers packing.

It’s clear that the worst recession in the country’s history, its largest-ever public corruption scandal, and one of the world’s highest murder rates have taken a heavy toll on the country’s political elite. Bolsonaro appears to be the beneficiary, and his likely victory on October 28 will shift the country’s government further from the emphasis on poverty alleviation and inclusion of the Workers Party governments of the past toward a focus on conservative social values and an increasingly tough-minded (sometimes brutal) approach to law enforcement.

Now for the catch: Change costs money, and the new president, probably Bolsonaro, won’t have much to work with. About two-thirds of Brazil’s federal budget is automatically directed toward payment of pensions, public health care, and the salaries of government workers. If more money is to go toward badly needed investment in the country’s tumble-down infrastructure or to help police restore order in the country’s largest cities, entitlement reform is crucial. That means building a political coalition to change the country’s constitution.

Bolsonaro’s party will increase the number of its seats from 8 to 52 in Brazil’s 513-member lower house of Congress, but unless the tough-talking new chief executive is willing to cut deals with a large number of lawmakers in a large number of different political parties, and fight to prevent the legislative watering down of painful spending reforms—and unless a new president despised by a significant number of citizens can persuade them that austerity is necessary, some of Brazil’s biggest problems won’t be addressed.

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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